Tuesday, November 13, 2012

An Artist's Tools

New feature! If you're new to my blog, I'll just let you know that I'm a multimedia artist. What that basically means is that I'm a creative person with a short attention span. No, seriously, what it means is that I love working in many different materials and disciplines. It's a wonderful thing, because I never get bored. I'm always challenged as I discover new things in my work, many of which can be taken from one medium and applied to another. So there's a serendipitous fusion kinda thing that happens frequently in my workspace. I love it.
Anyway, in this new regular feature, "An Artist's Tools", I will share some of the fun, bizarre, and, I think, unexpected tools that I use to get the things I create. I'm excited, because I've got a LOT of tools that I use in my various pursuits, and I think they might tell you a lot about me. Anyway, here is the very first of this new feature, highlighting my most basic pursuit, drawing. Drawing is the seed for a lot of things in my work, and is often the conduit through which bigger, grander things can develop. Here are some of my tools:
1. sketchbooks in assorted sizes that can go everywhere easily
2. bull clips for clipping scraps from magazines, etc. into sketchbooks for inspiration
3. compact pencil sharpener 4. gum eraser 5. colored pencils 6. rubber eraser
7. pencils 8. pens
There you have it. I look forward to sharing more soon!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Merry November

Let's face it. The holidays are in, like, five minutes, like it or not. I actually had my first orders for Christmas gifts this week. I hate to say it, but I have joined the ranks of those who dread the holidays, even though I love the family time. The yearly premature push into the gimmicks of the holidays, the rushing around, the endless to-do lists. So there's no explanation for how gleefully I gift wrapped the items for my customers, except my love of pretty packaging and giving smart, thoughtful gifts. Luckily, I've been preparing for packing holiday orders early, because I love to enclose some extra special touches.
For starters, I reordered a favorite piece I like to stick in with all my orders. Moo.com  offers these high quality, affordable mini cards that I make into little bookmarks for my customers.

These have been a fun, easy way to remind people where to find me. Next, I ordered some tiny jot pads inside matchbooks, for which I designed little stickers. These were super affordable, and will hopefully be fun and useful for my customers.

Then, I designed some new care labels to enclose/stick onto various items for which I felt
customers would benefit from instructions. Also from moo.com. 
 Finally, I snagged some gorgeous ribbon and tissue, at half off their regular price. I love combining texture and color to give a preview of what's inside, so I picked some things that I hope will excite their recipents. I feel like I could go all "Martha Stewart" on these orders now. Alright, holidays, bring it on. But please be gentle!

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Rearview Mirror and the Road Ahead

Yesterday I heard the news that a schoolmate of mine passed away. At 39, a massive heart attack ended his life. The first thing I often think about when I hear of someone passing at (what is considered) an early age, is, "Were they happy? Did they do the things that made them happy and spend the time with the people that mattered to them? Would they have lived differently if they had known?"
There's no going back. And that's the point. Sorry for the cliche, but tomorrow is not promised. I personally live by that understanding, and it has created an urgency in me to complete the things I think I'm here to do in the time that I have, which is, truly, only NOW, for sure. This moment.

The thought of leaving here without being/doing/having/knowing/sharing what I came here for is one of my very biggest motivators. It keeps me going when I'm exhausted, projects don't go as planned, and I feel like quitting. I sometimes get the feeling some of my own peers can't relate to my drive in my creative work, my anxiety to get it done today. I feel like they wonder why I don't just work a regular job, with less pressure to sink or swim. But I live to glance in my rearview mirror and see the very personal dreams I've accomplished, then keep moving forward. I think many don't relate to the sacrifices I've made to pursue my artistic dreams. This Saturday, I will turn the ripe old age of 38 (believe me when I say I feel like 28 is more accurate). I'm not where I want to be yet, but I'm well on the road there. If I were to take a moment to consider my life, and how I would feel about my choices if it were to end tomorrow, at the very least, I can say that even though I didn't have or get to do everything I would have liked, I enjoyed many blessings, and I was true to myself and my dreams. 
Don't get me wrong, even in my urgency, I try to stop short of being anxious about life being over any day now. I don't think that's a good way to live, especially if you believe thoughts and words become things. But that being said, I maintain daily, the need to check off a list of dreams, (sometimes big, but mostly small, bite sized ones) that I've made my reality. And then I spend time being consciously thankful for them. It's the icing on the cake if something I'm doing inspires someone else to do the same for their life. My thought for today: make the most of the joy, pain, lessons, laughs, people, and things you have now, and to take it a step further, really take time to feel gratitude for those things and the time you had to experience them!
RIP Chris Combs 1972-2012

Friday, October 12, 2012

A Studio Secret

Yesterday as I was ending a conversation with a friend in Capetown, who is a fellow papier mache enthusiast, I mentioned that I had to go tend to some papier mache pieces that were getting backed up, waiting to be sanded. She wryly wished me "fun with that", voicing what I felt about the sanding phase sometimes being my least favorite, albeit, very necessary step in making my papier mache pieces.
I will admit that I do sometimes procrastinate when pieces arrive at the sanding stage, but I have an excuse. In order to get the smooth, modern look I like, I have to be prepared to invest some time and juice. Seriously. So I often opt to work on other things, including starting new pieces, while the existing pieces stack up, with the logic that I'm still being productive. Then I end up planning a major sanding day, when I know I won't be dragging from too many late studio nights, and I'll have the hunger to hit a number of pieces in one go. 
Happily, many years ago, an old beau made a suggestion that I (and anyone who likes my work) should be thanking him for to this day. Upon seeing some of my work and listening to me talk about my search for ways to streamline my process, he recommended something I'd heard of, but hadn't looked into for myself. That's when my Dremel hand tool entered my life. I slapped myself in the forehead for not thinking of it on my own, and I never looked back. And now here we are today, many projects and years later, and I'm sharing this lovely tool here.

my (now old school model) Dremel rotary sander
This is not a glamorous, girly tool, and it can get a little loud, but this, as Tony Montana said in Scarface, is my little friend. I use it to quickly knock bubbles and kinks out of surfaces prior to my standard hand sanding with coarse sand paper. It works great for papier mache. I don't really use it for major sanding over large surfaces, though. That's what the bigger sanders are for. But this guy has all types of attachments and doo dads that help me buff, cut, carve, and smooth, to achieve all kinds of awesome finishes. I've also used it on polymer clay, wood, metal, and plastic.
I'm really not trying to do a commercial for Dremel, lol. This is a tidbit for those who want to know some of my secrets for the surfaces I create. This does not eliminate the need to sand all over with sand paper. At least not for me, because I'm pretty picky. I want smooth! Here's a piece that I started with the Dremel, then finished with sandpaper:
sanded to prep for painting
Thankfully, the Dremel and I had a pretty productive day yesterday, which will net new pieces arriving in my online shops in the next week or so. Yay!
And there, my friends, is another secret from the studio of Renée.
Thank you, D.D., wherever you are. :o)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Custom Connection

Mmmkay, I've been busy with things, but, well, it's time for me to pause and post, because sharing is caring, right? So I wanted to share a part of my work that offers me yet another facet of joy and fulfillment.
I often get requests from customers who've seen something in my Etsy shop, or my home website store that excites or inspires them, and they begin to think "what if?" As an artist, who wants to stir up the imagination of others, I love that! Sometimes people will ask for something in a different color, or something totally different from what they see, but in the same style. What follows is typically a few messages back and forth between myself and the customer, sometimes with pictures or sketches attached, to help their vison connect with mine. Once we're on the same page, I begin work.
I seem to get the best feedback from this type of order. Better than when folks just click "add to cart", it seems to be a great experience for all involved. Maybe it's because they get something made to their own specifications, and I get to make what they envision real. Having some customer service background, I think it's the "human touch". I mean, I am a real, breathing person with a working studio beyond this computer, and I don't employ any robots, lol.
Anyway, there's a little thrill involved, at least for me. Maybe it's the drive to really "get" what they want and exceed what they expect, or prove I can. I recently experienced that when a new customer purchased a necklace I made with my papier mache beads, then came back, thrilled with her first purchase, to order another in the shop and request a third made to resemble a decor item I had elsewhere in my shop. I loved her idea, and was excited to create it. Sometimes I like to think of it like I'm lending customers my hands and techniques to make what they would. Here's the finished piece:

a papier mache "painted stones" necklace with
ribbon tie
 I shipped this and her other piece off today. I hope she's as happy as she was with the first! And now, I'm gearing these hands up to create another special request, but I'll be back soon. I still have a few more posts to share before summer slips away!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Sweet Summer

With a little over a month left of this summer season, I'm trying to maximize every moment and fit in assorted memorable fun, big and small. Something I feel no summer should be without, especially in the Southern U.S., is some good old fashioned funnel cake. Most of us, at one time or another have had the priviledge of partaking in this yummy treat, whether at carnivals or ice cream shops, but almost always during the hot summer months, where it is enjoyed piping hot with either confectioner's sugar or a host of other toppings piled on high.

This summer, for the first time, it occured to me to try making funnel cake from scratch. I found a super easy recipe online that I wanted to share.
  • 1 egg
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup of flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • vegetable oil
Mix ingredients with a whisk. Heat vegetable oil in a pan (at least 1/2 in deep for frying). Drizzle batter into hot oil. Create shapes if you like. Flip once when the edges brown. Remove from the pan and drain on a paper towel. Add powdered sugar or topping of choice if desired.


Here's what mine looked like.
And voila! You've made a classic treat right at home. Hope you try it out :o)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Big Secret

A favorite medium of mine is papier mache. I create in both the strip method (layering glue soaked strips of paper onto a shape) and with pulp (a mash of paper broken down in water to function like clay). I use these simple, centuries-old techniques, and then I finish them off with my own modern visions for surface treatments, often taking a cue from ceramics, stone, wood, metal, and other materials. I think I take a sort of trompe l'oeil approach, because I like people to be surprised when they discover a piece is made of salvaged paper.

That being said, I sometimes get the impression that some people are skeptical about how simple and basic the mache aspect of my pieces is. I've read about and seen plenty of methods that incorporate emulsifiers, fillers, etc., and I have even tried some of those techniques. But I always gravitate back to the purest, simplest way to make papier mache (because the surfaces are where I get really complicated, not the forms!). So I wanted to share the steps to make the pulp I use to make many of the things you'll find in my online galleries and shops. Maybe you (yes you!) can give this a try yourself. It's not a state secret, and it's super simple!

You need: newspaper, water, white glue*

First thing's first. I start by hand tearing the newspaper into skinny strips, dropping them into a big paint pail. When I first started making pulp years ago, I followed someone else's instructions to tear into 1in squares. All that is really not necessary, lol.

I like to fill the pail up as full as possible, and if I'm short on newspaper, I will mix in white paper from the shredder, no biggie. I will note, however, that my preference is newspaper, because it's softer and easier to pound into a fine pulp. But shredded junk mail will do in a pinch.

Once I've torn enough paper to fill the pail, I start pouring water in over the paper. The temperature doesn't really matter, room temp. is fine. Some resources will tell you to boil the paper in water on the stove to break down the fibers better, but again, not really necessary, especially if you're okay with putting a lid on it and letting it soak for a couple days. Don't be in a hurry with this. If you're in a hurry, go to the store and buy mache mix or paperclay.

I make sure that there's enough water to cover all the paper, then slap the lid on and forget about it for a few days while I do other stuff. When I return, PRESTO!!!
Looks the same as before I put the lid on, lolol.

Now is the point where I would recommend you've had your Wheeties for breakfast and done some stretches, because this stage calls for some gusto. Now that the paper has soaked and softened, I sink my hands in and start tossing, kneading, pounding and mixing. You really have to put some muscle into it, like you're kneading dough, washing clothes the old fashioned way, or grinding corn. It's called pulp for a reason, lol, so beat it into one! The more time and energy you invest in this stage, the finer, softer, and more clay-like the end result will be. As you knead and pound, the mix will begin to look like this:

Notice the excess water in the pail. I've got two solutions for that. Either drain most of the excess water out, leaving enough to keep the pulp malleable, or do as I've started doing more recently: as I'm kneading, I will continue to sprinkle shredded office paper into the mix and kneading it in. This absorbs the extra water and makes an even bigger batch of pulp, which is great, because I always have a cue of assorted projects going at one time. Either way, the more water that is absorbed or removed, the less shrinkage your pieces with exhibit as they are drying. The water makes the paper puffy, then as it evaporates, the paper fibers shrink and harden. The lower the water content, the less correcting up in size you will have to do to your pieces to allow for shrinkage. 

The last step is to add glue. I don't add a specific, measured amount.

I just add a generous amount, then mix it in with my hands. I know I've added enough when the pulp feels smoother and begins to hold shapes, or hold together like clay. At this stage, it's like mixing up a meatloaf.

More energetic kneading (this is a great thing to make when you've had a bad day, need to blow off steam, or just burn calories, lol.), and I arrive at this:

I harp on spending plenty of time on kneading because the finer the texture of the pulp, the finer the details you can achieve when you sculpt with it.

paper fiber and glue: a fine texture can be achieved

And there you have it. That is my one and only papier mache pulp recipe. You can use pulp to make all kinds of awesome things, limited only by your imagination. Give it a try!

*The only way I ever deviate from this recipe is to sometimes add baking soda. Paper, after all, tends to take on a strong *ahem* "character" after soaking for a few days, so I sometimes toss some baking soda in to alleviate the smell. I don't think it really makes a difference to any other aspect of the pulp.

UPDATE: Be sure to check out my YouTube channel for video tutorials on topics like this. Subscribe to see more!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Before & Afters

I've loved makeovers since I was a young'un, long before they became a thing on reality t.v. and elsewhere. I love a good transformation or upgrade, and am always looking at things from houses to clothes with an eye to their potential. So I'm starting a new series on this blog called "Before & Afters" to share transformed things that I'm excited about. I'm thinking it will be a lot of my own projects, and with any luck, I'll be able to toss cool stuff transformed by other artists and companies into the mix.

So for my first official Before & Afters post, I'd like to share a piece from a series of vases I'm working on. I've been taking standard small vitamin bottles and sculpting papier mache pulp over them to create working wet vases made totally of recycled materials. Because of the plastic bottle inside, these can be used with water and flowers like a traditional vase. Here's the before:
an empty vitamin bottle
And the after:  
it's paper, but water is a-okay in it!
This is also a sneak peek for posts I'll be publishing soon, revealing my super simple papier mache pulp recipe, and the steps I took to create the vase above. Hope you're looking forward to this series and the technique posts. I am!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

One Tip Tuesday

Today, in a rare One Tip Tuesday edition (because I haven't done one of these in like, forever), I wanted to share a tip on paint economy in the studio.

Paint. Is. Expensive. Well, sometimes. I personally know how to catch a good deal and ways to stretch the paint I already have.;o) This tip is so simple it's a no brainer, and it works for artist grade acrylics, oils, and craft acrylics. Whenever I mix up a special color, I try to make more than I think I'll need, so that I don't have to go back and mix again and try to match the first batch. So there's almost always leftover. Well, since it is near sacrilegious in my studio to throw out perfectly good paint, I seal up the excess in empty plastic containers. Whenever I need to create layers, thickness, or depth on a project, the excess comes out to play. It doesn't matter that it's not the color I intend to use in the end, because it will end up covered, and I won't have used up the intended color trying to create "body" on a painting or a sculpted piece. And I've avoided waste. So winner winner... well, you know. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Garden of My Mind

As an artist, I spend a lot of time visualizing things I would like to create, from simple projects, to things I want to think into existence for my life.

a Chinese lantern plant
One of my personal dreams is to one day have a beautiful garden at my home. I've always possessed an inner gardener, one who loves the feel of the earth in her hands and relishes the fruit of carefully tended plots. I love flowers, succulent cactus, and edibles, and my dream garden would have all of these.
Having thumbed through seed catalogs time and again over the years, I could name off some of the magical things I would grow *ahem*, will grow when the opportunity arrives. I want beautiful colors, strange shapes, and tasty specimens. I want everything from crispy cukes, to paw paws, to edible flowers that I can dust with pretty sugars and perch on homemade cakes. I can see myself strolling, sitting, sketching, and just renewing in my perfect garden. I've grown things in the past, and enjoyed the satisfaction of creating something from seed, earth, sun, and water, but because of limited time and other resources to devote to maintenance (like keeping hungry pests away), I have temporarily given it up.
While out exploring with a friend recently, I happened onto a plant precariously tossed beside an old railroad depot. It had obviously been ditched there, because there were just branches lying on the ground. I recognized it as an elusive favorite, which I had never seen in person, and one that I had pictured for my own garden, a Chinese lantern. The petals on the "lanterns" were gorgeous shades of soft pink, green, and tan, and they reminded me of my goal, so I brought home some of the stems. I managed to extract seeds from some of the pods, and may be able to start them in a pot. Who knows, this could be the first step to that dream coming true! Before I forget, I wanted to share this awesome video, which in part, inspired this post. So I can't take credit for the "garden of your mind" idea, lol. Hope you like :o)                              p.s. I love Mr. Rogers and PBS. We go waaay back!

Update: I'm officially back at it with a slowly expanding container garden! Follow my "grow things" board on Pinterest to see what I'm cultivating!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

(not so) Wordless Wednesday

Ok, so this was supposed to be a Wordless Wednesday post, but I just couldn't help myself, lol. Today being the Fourth of July/ Independance Day in the States, I've been thinking about how much I love fireworks. I'm a big kid when it comes to fireworks. Everyone I know seems to think they're no big deal, and if you've seen one show, you've seen them all. But they never seem to get old for me. I still love the colors, lights, and sounds experienced during a good pyrotechnics show. They still give me a sense of wonder. I think the only way I could get tired of them is if I were to see them constantly. But for now they remain special, something beautiful, bright, happy, and out of the ordinary. And today they will celebrate our freedom as a nation! Hope you get a chance to enjoy some :o).

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Old Hats

I have become an efficiency expert for myself these days. I like to maximize my time, even when I'm having fun or relaxing. An example is that I always have a sketchbook, the kindle app on my phone, or a good old fashioned book with me to take advantage of any time I may have to spend waiting. So  yesterday I had an appointment with the eye doctor, so I grabbed my sketchbook and the junk mail to go through while I waited. As I flipped through the store flyers and sale papers, I came across this picture of a gown. The general idea ignited something - stirring up an old interest of mine. Back in my middle school days, I had a passion for clothing design. It was a strong contender for my ultimate career, and into highschool, I spent hours sketching designs. I remember drawing concepts for classmates' prom dresses. Eventually that interest gave way to other forms of expression, but I always had a fond place in my heart for wearing the designer's hat. Anyway, when I saw this gown, I thought to myself "no, no, no, that needs tweaking!" (sorry, Vogue sewing pattern people!). So I whipped out the sketchbook and started laying it out, the way I thought it should be. My version is inspired by the stunning, clever fashions of old movies that designers like the inimitable Edith Head clothed in unforgettable style. Such an inspiration. Anyway, here's my slightly "octaned" up version:
What fun to revisit an old love!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Flashbacks and Fuel

Hi! How's your day?
studio flashback:
papier mache prototypes
Mine's been great- lots of creative fun and being all industrious and stuff. I just wanted to share a little highlight. As I was check-
ing out my statistics for my shop on Etsy, I noticed a hit that came from a blog. Whenever I see a particular blog or website send traffic to my shop, I go check it out, to see what led the visitor to me. So when I visited the blog, I found the sweetest post, written by my very first customer on Etsy, back in 2009. I had set up shop in the fall of 2008 and my first sale (on my birthday!) was to Sharon, of Morgan Street Soap.
Anyway, after receiving her item, Sharon wrote the nicest post about her experience buying from me. That is what I found today: http://morganstreetsoap.blogspot.com/2008/11/dreaming-big.html
 Warm fuzzy feelings abound. And, as a bonus, more fuel for the drive to create more and better and share it all! Stay inspired :o)

Saturday, June 16, 2012


I love it when an idea just comes to me, especially when it's the solution to something, clear as a bell. Yesterday that happened as I was attempting to get an order packed to ship and couldn't find just the right thing. I was shipping some papier mache gems, and I needed something in the same vein as the metallic finish on the gems to use as filler for the bag they were in. I like to pack pretty, so my things are fun to receive! The closest thing I had was plain brown kraft shred, and it wasn't doing it for me.
So I put that aside for a bit to go do other things. That's my way of allowing the "lightbulb" to find me, so to speak. And it did. I remembered a sad crumpled sheet of metallic gold tissue paper that I had laying around that had been used and reused, and had seen better days. It wasn't really pretty enough to use in a gift, but I hadn't had the heart to ditch it. But anyone who knows me knows I like to recycled the mess out of some things, until they just turn to dust or disintegrate from time and space. I thought of the gold tissue and this random handheld mini shredder that my awesome brother had given me years ago (more on him later). I dug up the paper, then found the shredder and before I knew it I had this:

excuse me while I make flaxen gold (ignore the fuzziness of the pic, please)
Which became this:
oh my! love this!
 Which I used for this:

 And that was my lightbulb. Side note: I've been busily working on lots of new things, including reorganizing some of my work areas. That's my "shipping department" in the background. It's awesome, but the lighting is not really conducive to picture-taking. Anyway, with all this making new and reworking, it could just be a huge coincidence that Etsy has set up something new called an "About" page for sellers. The moment was ripe to share a little, so that's one of the things that's been on the project list. Here's a sneek peek at my (as yet unfinished) about page, (which reveals the shipping department!): http://www.etsy.com/shop/studioRenee/about/

That is all. Have an inspired weekend!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Summer of...

So I will confess to being a workaholic. If I'm pried away from my home office and studio for very long I admit, I get a little anxious thinking of everything I want to get done here. But lately a new pattern seems to be forming. Today my brother (love him) managed to get me away to join he and our mom to see the movie "Avengers". By the time the 20 minutes of previews and commercials was over, my anxiety about my to-do list was quieting down, and I was able to have a good time hanging with them and seeing an excellent, action-packed movie. I know the old adage about "all work and no play...", but sometimes I get so busy in my "artist with her nose to the grindstone, paying her dues" mindset, I forget to make some time to do things just for fun. But when I do, the payoff is that I return to my work refreshed and inspired, often with something new to bring to it.

Just to set the record straight, I love to have fun, and I do realize the importance of balance in one's life. And in the past few weeks, I've had the opportunity to enjoy a number of new adventures! In a series of firsts, I visited some new towns, walked some beautiful new nature trails, cooked some new dishes, went kayaking, and went to an amazing Korean sauna I'd never been to. Just reflecting on the past month or two, I'm putting it out there right now: This is gonna be an amazing, wonderful summer (more great firsts, please!). Professionally and personally, artistically and otherwise. I'm going to make that happen. What are you putting out there?

P.S. I promise I'll be posting projects I'm working on and sharing techniques as part of my amazing summer - stay tuned!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A Contagious Thing

A while back I had the pleasure of meeting and helping a beautiful elderly man. I know that sounds funny, but it is accurate because it really refers to his energy and the glow in his face. He was with a sweet lady whom I had met before and who had talked about him to me. According to her, (she was probably several years his junior) they had been long time friends and roommates, and (I suspected) that she also acted as his caretaker. Before I ever met the gentleman, she had talked about what a kind friend he had always been, and how they had been there for each other, but it was a special privilege to get to meet him myself. The first thing I noticed, of course, was his frame, stiffly curled over the walker he was using. He was practically doubled over, and had to lift his head to make eye contact. When he did, and we began to talk, I noticed a pair of stunning bright, crysophrase colored eyes dancing and opening wide with expression as he talked.

crysophrase gemstones

They made me feel that the "real" him, his youthful spirit was there inside, with the same vibrance he must have had in his youth, even though his physique did not reflect that. When he became tired, she and I helped him to her SUV. We had to go very slow, so we had time to talk more, and he told me that he was about to have his 83rd birthday. I offered my congratulations and he made a few jokes about it, then slipped into a bit of philosophy about life. He stopped to ask me how old I was, then huffed in amazement when I told him, telling me I didn't look near that old, lol. When he asked me about my work and my philosophies on life, (his mistake?) I must have gotten this faraway look in my eyes, and launched into my ideals about making the most of every single day, how thankful I was for so many things that some folks will never have or enjoy, and how much I love my work. He shook his head, telling me that what I said gave him chills, and that we all need to keep that sort of perspective on living, to get the most out of it.
It was kind of a moment, like two spirits who were polar opposites (at least externally), having a brush with understanding a little of the meaning of life, and realizing how much alike we all can be. Okay, yes, maybe a little corny, but genuine, so go with it.

Anyway, the point is that passion is totally contagious. Passion for life, passion for learning, passion for whatever makes us feel fulfilled. Any of us, when we reveal what makes our spirit sing, can inspire others to realize or just remember their own. What would the world be like if we did?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Good Vibes in Blogland

I'm thrilled and thankful to share that I was given the Liebster Award by my friend Ildi, of Ildi's Papier Mache today! Vă mulţumim, Ildi!!

The Liebster Award is given by bloggers to their fellow bloggers who inspire them and have under 200 followers. The Liebster Award takes it’s name from the German word meaning Beloved, Dearest or Favorite.

Here's my award!

The tradition includes passing the award along to 5 bloggers who have motivated and inspired you. To accept the award you must:
1. Link back to the person who gave it to you and thank them
2. Post the award to your blog
3. Give the award to 5 bloggers with less than 200 followers that you appreciate and value.
4. Leave a comment on the 5 blogs to let them know that they have been offered this award.

Here are my chosen honorees:
1. Tracy, at One Brown Crafter, who inspires me endlessly with her wonderful art and ideas. She frequently adds amazing content to her blog and facebook page!
2. Cassandra, of Creations by CC, who is a talented photographer who also shares her home, garden, and craft projects, plus yummy recipes.
3. Tisa, at Mochatographer, another super talented photographer, who shares her adventures with clients, equipment, techniques, and her inpirations.
4. Aimee, of Made in the Fold, who creates beautiful handwritten invitations, custom stamps, and more.
5. Dana, of Tumblestone Handmakery, who makes whimsical jewelry, frames, and more, and shares her inspiration in blogland.

I invite you to check out all these talented people- you will not be disappointed!
Thanks all, for your contribution to the creative universe!!!

Friday, April 13, 2012

un{LUCKY} Friday

So I'm thumbing my nose at Friday the 13th. It's been a pretty uneventful day. Possibly because I got all my mishaps in earlier in the week. I did all kinds of slipping, fumbling, dropping, etc. and topped it off by being sick and slow to finish my tasks. I also found out my laptop likes dark roast. :o(. The sight of me grabbing it up, flipping it upside down to try to keep hot coffee from seeping into the works, then cleaning, whining and praying really hard must have been HIlarious. Funny thing, once the coffee dried, the pages seemed to load faster, lol. Caffeine is king. So I guess by the time today rolled around I was just done. The quota had been met.
I'm feeling better now, and I even made some progress on a project that's been on the backburner for a while. It's still in its infancy, but will become a part of my website very soon. I invite you to take a look at my new goods shop, which consists of all kinds of great items that have my art and designs on them!

You'll find wall decor, home goods, accessories, and soon apparel, with lots of my paintings, drawings, photography and digital art, old and new, emblazoned on it. Hope you take a look and enjoy what you find!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

New Frontier

What's been on my mind the past couple of weeks (at least in the marketing section of my brain)? Among other things, QR codes. I've been hearing about them and seeing them pop up everywhere, but until recently, have kept the idea of getting one for lil' ol' moi on the back burner. What is a QR code, you ask? It is a series of pixels arranged in a design, which, when scanned with a smart phone or tablet, takes you to a specific website.

scan me!
Odds are, you're seeing them pop up everywhere as well. Anyway, just like every other new social media/ networking/ marketing           "you need to do this today" thing that I come across everyday, when I first heard about regular folks like myself getting them, I said, yeah, that sounds good, but it'll just have to go on the bottom of the pages long to-do list. Well, in the same spirit that has moved me to finally find time to update my website, get the mobile version functional, and make other progress, I, Renée Parker, am finally going to generate a QR code for myself! Humor me, I'm taking baby steps to bigger things :o).

Just by googling "QR code generator", you'll find a slew of websites where you can plug in a website and instantly download a custom QR code to use as a direct link. I plan to create one to use on stickers, which I will then slap on my business cards, my packaging, my forehead, etc.

This is the back of my business card with a sample QR code sticker
 These are the days where one must make their work easy access, and cater to the world of plugged-in folks with short attention spans, lol. Edited to add: Scan applications used on smartphones, tablets, and other devices can easily be downloaded free of charge. There are numerous different scan apps available, and they can be found on itunes, the android marketplace, or by googling "scanner application". Many of these applications are primarily used by consumers for comparison shopping by scanning traditional barcodes in stores, but also work for QR codes!

So that's my latest scheme. Stay tuned-- who can say what else is brewing, lol.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

One Tip Tuesday

Today I would like to tout the benefits of the humble spray bottle for studio use and beyond...

This simple, dollar store denizen (or free, if you recycle an empty cleaning bottle) can serve a multitude of purposes. In the studio, with just plain water in it, I use it for various tasks, such as: light spill cleanup, rewetting papier mache so I can continue to sculpt it, reviving acrylic and watercolor paint (I sometimes spray it directly into the little watercolor cups!), and for helping me achieve interesting paint effects and textures (just by spraying lightly at different stages of the drying process). It's also nice for clearing glue and paint off my hands until I'm ready to stop and wash up, and for wetting fabric for stretching over shapes and forms. As a bonus, if I ever have kids, I think this would make a handy "monster spray". A couple of squirts under the bed or in the closet, and no more monsters! Do you use a spray bottle in your work? What are your best uses? Do you use plain water, or a special mixture?

Sunday, March 11, 2012

On Color

Submitted for your inspiration...

We only have to look closely at the easily accessible world around us to find the color and form that has inspired artists and designers since the beginning of time. Live with your eyes open!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Finale Friday

No, Finale Friday is not gonna be a "thing" now on my blog, lol. I just wanted to take a sec to share the finished spin on the mini painting I posted on Wednesday. After I posted the sketch, I was supposed to go to bed, but I just looked at that thing and I couldn't stand it. And since my studio is connected to my bedroom by my bathroom, I came up with every excuse to run through the bathroom like a hamster in one of those tubes just to "start" painting a "little". So I finished the painting before I hit the shower. And here it is:

"au lait au lait" 2.5in x2.5in acrylic on canvas

The first in a series of themed minis, I was inspired by how much I enjoy moments with all my favorite cups, with my favorite things to put in them, while I'm working, relaxing, spending time with my favorite peoples... I can't make it sound as fun as it's going to be when there are a number of these finished to look at. But I have been trying to get myself in the habit of doing regular small paintings for practice and for studies for larger pieces. And when I thought of the cups for subject matter, well, that = motivation to get rolling. Funny, if you find something that gets you interested and excited, you can use that to reach a goal. Like getting motivated to exercise.

Anyway, a habit takes 21 days to form, right? So if I commit to doing a minimum of 3 non-anal, non fussy small or mini paintings a week for 3 weeks, then I'll be on my way to bigger, better things. Crossing my fingers, toes, and paintbrushes...

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Ideas Galore

a batch of papier mache pulp
waiting to become something amazing
Okay, if you're just stumbling onto this blog, my work, or me, for that matter, you probably don't know that one of my all time favorite mediums (as an artist with a short attention span) is papier mache. My name is Renée, and I am a papier mache addict. There I said it.

Anyway, I was online doing some research for some new techniques. I had stumbled onto an old book with a different type of paper art that I wanted to try. In my searching, I happened onto a new design blog, which I instantly followed and wanted to share. So here we are. Dornob: Design Ideas Daily is a rabbit hole of things to look at in every type of design. They just happened to have a post that included examples of beautiful forms made of papier mache that sucked me in: http://dornob.com/pulp-projects-recycled-paper-pots-planks-shelves-more/. I will warn you, this blog is packed to the brim with ads, but if you can look past them to the meat of the content, you might find some gems yourself. Enjoy!